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Proceedings Paper

Electrically controllable artificial PAN muscles
Author(s): Karim Salehpoor; Mohsen Shahinpoor; Mehran Mojarrad
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Paper Abstract

Artificial muscles made with polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibers are traditionally activated in electrolytic solution by changing the pH of the solution by the addition of acids and/or bases. This usually consumes a considerable amount of weak acids or bases. Furthermore, the synthetic muscle (PAN) itself has to be impregnated with an acid or a base and must have an appropriate enclosure or provision for waste collection after actuation. This work introduces a method by which the PAN muscle may be elongated or contracted in an electric field. We believe this is the first time that this has been achieved with PAN fibers as artificial muscles. In this new development the PAN muscle is first put in close contact with one of the two platinum wires (electrodes) immersed in an aqueous solution of sodium chloride. Applying an electric voltage between the two wires changes the local acidity of the solution in the regions close to the platinum wires. This is because of the ionization of sodium chloride molecules and the accumulation of Na+ and Cl- ions at the negative and positive electrode sites, respectively. This ion accumulation, in turn, is accompanied by a sharp increase and decrease of the local acidity in regions close to either of the platinum wires, respectively. An artificial muscle, in close contact with the platinum wire, because of the change in the local acidity will contract or expand depending on the polarity of the electric field. This scheme allows the experimenter to use a fixed flexible container of an electrolytic solution whose local pH can be modulated by an imposed electric field while the produced ions are basically trapped to stay in the neighborhood of a given electrode. This method of artificial muscle activation has several advantages. First, the need to use a large quantity of acidic or alkaline solutions is eliminated. Second, the use of a compact PAN muscular system is facilitated for applications in active musculoskeletal structures. Third, the PAN muscles become electrically controllable and therefore the use of such artificial muscles in robotic structures and applications becomes more feasible. A muscle is designed such that it is exposed to either Na+ or Cl- ions effectively. Muscle contraction or expansion characteristics under the effect of the applied electric field are discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 February 1996
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 2716, Smart Structures and Materials 1996: Smart Materials Technologies and Biomimetics, (9 February 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.232131
Show Author Affiliations
Karim Salehpoor, Univ. of New Mexico (United States)
Mohsen Shahinpoor, Univ. of New Mexico (United States)
Mehran Mojarrad, Univ. of New Mexico (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2716:
Smart Structures and Materials 1996: Smart Materials Technologies and Biomimetics
Andrew Crowson, Editor(s)

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